Brief Encounter – 1981 – We Want To Play
Brief Encounter may not that familiar to many of you. They released only two LPs, their debut being released in 1977 which articulated the wonder of that era so magnificently. They continued to release high calibre material throughout that decade, but it wasn’t until 1981 that they finally released their second LP. Please take time out to listen this set, “We Want To Play”, from a band that broke up way way too soon, but have thankfully recently reformed on the back of renewed interest in their wonderful musical heritage.
A1 Rocking 4:05
A2 Since I Met You Girl 3:47
A3 Now I Know I Love You 4:00
A4 Just For Love 3:46
A5 Sweet Tender Loving 4:16
B1 We Want To Play For You 4:27
B2 Open Up Your Heart 3:11
B3 Together In Love 5:26
B4 If You Want My Love 4:29
Research and Review by Trakbuv
Some of you may recall the wonderful British WW2 romantic movie, “Brief Encounter” – the quaint, quintessential tear-jerker that knew its way around a set of old-fashioned heartstrings. I’m not sure if the band named itself after that particular black and white movie classic, but their bittersweet sensibilities do make it an inspired choice. Brief Encounter were a 9-strong, self-contained act that included four brothers : Maurice Whittington (lead vocals), Gary Bernard Bailey (lead vocals, bass, guitar, keyboards), Montie Bailey (lead vocals, keyboards), Larry Bailey (sax, keyboards), Velmor Bailey (keyboards), Rufus Wilborn (drums, flute), Fredrick Alexander (drums, percussion), Charles Graham (trumpet), Michael Carter (guitar). Originating from North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, they apparently had been together from high school. Their first group incarnation was as Sounds Of Soul that included the Bailey brothers, together with friends Maurice and Rufus.
Probably their first single, the rare groove delight ‘Human’ was released in 1970 on Sound Plus Records, and coupled with ballad A-side ‘Total satisfaction’, this really was a glorious entry into the soul market. Still under the careful guidance of John Richbourg, they recorded their first long player the same year. Released on the now legendary Seventy Seven Records, that went on to commit the likes of Ann Sexton and Geater Davis to plastic, it was an exceptional collection of primarily tuneful ballad and midtempo gems. In 1973, ‘I’m so satisfied’ was released as a single, a sweet soul dreamer, followed by the hypnotic ballad with a beat, ‘(Don’t you see) I’m crazy about you’. However, neither made any impact.
They then switched to the much more established Capitol Records label, where they tried their luck with the bouncy, catchy ‘What about love’. This was followed by ‘Get a good feeling’ in 1977, a track lifted from their debut LP some 7 years earlier. It wasn’t until 1981 that Brief Encounter secured their sophomore LP, and the time differential is quite apparent between the two sets. The opener “Rockin’” is a typical disco stomper, sounding like a rejected Kleeer track to these ears. Far more satisfying is the tuneful “Since I Met You Girl” that reminds me a little of Switch with a touch of the Solar Records. “Now I Know I love You” is a melancholic minimalistic number written by Gary B Bailey with him on the dominant acoustic guitar, so am I right in assuming that he may also on be lead vocals ? A surprise and a delight. The next two tracks have me scratching my head – they seem to feature an unnamed female lead vocalist. They also happen to be among my favourite tracks with the sweet glow of rare groove beaming from the notes. “Just For Love” is a lovely two-step ballad with a warm flute adding that special piquant touch. And in “Sweet Tender Loving”, they have a midtempo beauty hung on some simple yet devastating string and horn arrangements. “We Want To Play” has a characteristic groove synonymous with the early 80s, a very nice chug-a-long that is a real grower. “Open up your heart” is another pleasant uptempo booty bopper, this time with a hint of Freeez and reminding me of The Live Band’s ‘A chance for hope’ for some reason. Having feasted on their debut, the next track was what I was really looking forward to. “Together In Love” takes full advantage of all the delicate tools of a master craftsman in capturing the sophistication of the early 70s with exquisite finesse. A class all of its own. I also really like the nostalgic feel of ‘If You Want My Love’ which would have been so much better if they had used real horns – and probably the best vocal showcase for the band.
In 1983, the band split, their last known performance being at the wedding of Gary Bailey in 1985. In 1988, the P-Vine label in Japan compiled an album entitled “Brief Encounter With Sweet Soul Music” that featured their singles output from the 70s, among other artists. But unlike many of the artists championed in our pages here at FMS, the belated rapturous applause for our heros has not gone unnoticed. Brief Encounter have since reformed having noticed the value of their albums up for auction (their debut clearing $2000 a throw). And on September 3, 2010, they released their first single in nearly 3 decades. Entitled “Shake and Move”, 500 copies were auctioned off to raise money for the Haitian Earthquake Relief Fund. The A-Side is a re-recording of an unreleased track from (possibly) the “We Want To Play” sessions, while the B-Side, “I Want You So Much”, is a new recording. You can see them perform both tracks live here. It would appear that unlike the movie, Brief Encounter did manage to get back together again and hopefully they will enjoy some of the bliss that their music has gifted us.
Extremely rare to be found.